When I worked with college students, we knew the best way to get our program attended was to offer food. We would offer a simple meal that, hopefully, was a thoughtful complement to the conversation or the workshop we were providing: red beans and rice when we discussed the complexity of racism before and after Hurricane Katrina, chicken soup when discussing changes to the Affordable Care Act, tomato soup and grilled cheese when introducing community service and the value of tutoring in our neighborhoods, chili with cheese and onions when trying to understand homelessness.
Lent is a special time where we would make time for God, for ourselves, for others and all those affected relationships. So, we capitalized on serving a simple soup and offering a simple prayer and intention for how our lives could be actively engaged in enriching the lives of others.
To this day, this practice of hospitality finds its way in my experience of ministry.
So when I confront the difficulty of the recent and persisting scandals of pedophilia, corruption, lack of courage, hearsay, racism, abuse of power, I begin to imagine what kind of goodness our world needs us to contribute in order for the goodness to overcome the evil, the hostility, the apathy.
I like to cook, and most of all, I like to enjoy a great meal with wonderful people. I decided to create a recipe that would outline the key ingredients needed to prepare a space for this Kin-dom of God to exist both now and to come:
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- 2 Cups Desire
- ¼ Cup Openness
- 2 Cups Facing Your Own Fears
- ½ Cup Strength to Hear (soaked overnight)
- 1 Cup Courage to Listen
- First, take a moment to sit with the reality, maybe even sleep on it. Be it a difficult decision from the hierarchy that directly affects your local community or the ongoing misunderstandings we continue to uncover with Vati-leaks, we must first have the Strength to Hear other perspectives than our own.
- Once you have gained your energy and focus, feel free to combine any and all of the rest of the ingredients. Desire and Openness are best when interacting with one another. Desire for another way to approach a situation or a dilemma and the Openness to possibilities add the right kick to an active church willing to imagine and work tirelessly for God’s kin-dom just as Jesus demonstrated. Even with nay-sayers around him, Jesus desired change and was open to other outcomes.
Ignatius asks the wonderful question to his directees, “What is it that you desire?” Personally, I want all the factions to end: the binary between the body and the soul, liberal vs. conservative, rich vs. poor, the in and the out, the powerful and the powerless. I am open to a new theology of grace as we come to understand the human person much more complexly. I am open to a new understanding of how we relate to one another and offer benefits and privileges to our expression of our humanity.
- Facing Our Fears adds more of a thickness or a heartiness to your soup. It’s so easy for people not to include this for obvious reasons: “it’s safer,” “I don’t want to lose my job,” “I’m not really being affected,” “this church won’t change anyway!” For whatever reason people do not include this ingredient, the soup is ALWAYS better when you are inclusive of risk. The church and its people are connected, real, vulnerable … nothing is ever secure, including our faith. Facing Our Fears just allows God to be God and challenges us to follow God’s lead, not our own.
- Lastly, Courage to Listen, or perhaps to keep Silent sometimes, balances out the flavor of the church from being me-centered to “just-us” centered. We must resist the defensive and arrogant stance of “I know” and opt for the Courage to Listen even when we’ve heard time and time before. This time is actually different. This time affects this person.
Racism can no longer be a battle won in the past if we continue to see and become silenced by actions and expressions of hate. We are not all fixed yet … we must have the Courage to Listen so that our change is felt globally through the hearts of each person.
Try this S.O.U.P. Share this Lenten S.O.U.P recipe with others!
And may the living God, this Lenten season, continue to bless our efforts amidst temptation and trial.
[Jocelyn A. Sideco is a retreat leader, spiritual director and innovative minister who specializes in mission-centered ministry. Visit her budding new online ministry, In Good Company, at contemplativecompanions.org or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
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